Wednesday, 26 November 2014

007 Film History: Black Bond Girls - From Trina Parks To 'Skyfall' Star Naomie Harris

007 Film History: Black Bond Girls - From Trina Parks To 'Skyfall' Star Naomie Harris

NON-WHITE BOND GIRLS have only featured sporadically within the history of the 007 films. Naomie Harris in 'Skyfall' is the first black British actress to star. Will others now follow? By Ben Arogundade.


BLACK BEAUTY IN BOND: Actress Naomie Harris, the first ever black British Bond girl, stars in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall with Daniel Craig as 007. The star of Pirates Of The Caribbean and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, is one of only five black actresses ever to feature within the famous film franchise. Trina Parks was the first, in the 1973 movie Diamonds Are Forever, opposite Sean Connery as Bond.

THE LATEST BOND film, Skyfall, stars actress Naomie Harris opposite Daniel Craig as 007. She has made history as the first ever black British Bond girl to appear in the franchise. The Cambridge University graduate and star of the films Pirates Of The Caribbean and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, follows in the footsteps of only four other black actresses that have appeared in the role since the series first hit cinema screens in 1962. Some might contend that this is a relief, considering that Bond girls are traditionally no more than eye candy, and have a tendency to end up dead or cast adrift romantically, but nevertheless the part still holds tremendous prestige for any young actress.

The first non-white Bond girls did not feature until the late 1960’s, assisted by the momentum of the American Civil Rights Movement, which expanded the landscape for alternative definitions of beauty. In 1966 Star Trek launched on television, featuring a multi-racial crew aboard the starship Enterprise, and the makers of the Bond films responded in similar fashion the following year with the movie You Only Live Twice, which featured three East Asians — Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama and Tsai Chin.

Next, the first black Bond girl debuted in 1973 when African American actress and dancer Trina Parks starred as the light-footed villain, Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever (1973). The timing coincided with the Blaxploitation era, and the Bond franchise picked up on a new beauty archetype — the ass-kicking, chocolate-skinned Blaxploitation goddess, armed with an Afro and an attitude.

Parks’ debut was closely followed by that of model and former Playboy bunny Gloria Hendry, who starred as double agent Rosie Carver in Live And Let Die (1973). She was the first black Bond girl to be sexually involved with the British agent — on this occasion, Roger Moore as 007. When the film was first released in South Africa during the apartheid era, sex scenes between the pair were cut.

There would be a 12-year gap before the next black Bond girl would feature, this time recording artist and former fashion model Grace Jones, who starred as the ultra-macho and slightly scary May Day in View To A Kill (1985). But there would be an even bigger wait for the next Asian Bond beauties — 30 years would pass before actress Michelle Yeoh starred in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

Halle Berry became the most popular black Bond girl ever when she played Jinx Johnson in Die Another Day (2002). In a tribute to Ursula Andress’s famous scene from Dr No, Berry — dressed in a skimpy orange bikini — rose gracefully out of the sea as a racially upgraded sex bomb for a new multi-ethnic age. Today’s racially diverse film fans now have Naomie Harris as James Bond’s fifth black femme fatale. Five is a conspicuously low number, and the large gap between their appearances suggests that the franchise’s racial revisionism is moving at a slower pace than it is in Hollywood. One can only hope they catch up quickly.

The new book BLACK BEAUTY by Ben Arogundadeis out now.

No comments:

Post a Comment